Our journey to Millsboro, Delaware at Brittingham Farms was nothing short of extraordinary. We always love travel events because it gives us the opportunity to explore new regions, cultures and tastes. From the moment we arrived, we were greeted by the picturesque beauty of the countryside, with rolling lush green fields stretching as far as the eye could see. As a prelude to what we were in for when I had visits a few months ago, the farm's owners Laura and Jon met us on as we toured the property one last time to finalize logistics. I couldn't believe how beautiful the lavender fields were, the last time I was down in early spring, they were beautiful, but this time the expierence was other worldly.
As we set up our open air, fire-driven kitchen amidst the many rows of lavender, I was immediately captivated by the sheer beauty that surrounded us.. The vibrant purple hues of the lavender flowers created a stunning backdrop against the rich blue sky. The gentle breeze carried the sweet scent of lavender as we co-habited the rows with many different pollinators, from honey bees, bumblebees and hummingbird moths. Albeit one of the hottest days this season for us, the combination of the aromatic lavender, the flickering flames, and the peaceful ambiance created a truly magical experience that I am grateful to be a part of.
I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to thoughtfully prepared one of the sheep from the farm over the fire. The sheep Laura and Jon raise are Leicester long wool sheep, a variety I have yet to work with, and they have such tremendous marbling which lends itself well for our preparation of open fire cooking. When you are working with such quality products, we let them essentially speak for themselves. We used a handcrafted sea salt that was infused with the very lavender that the lamb was cooked in.
I know the sound of a lavender laced dinner may sound a little overkill but we were very careful to not overwhelm the guests with a saccharin seasoning palate, but to incorporate other elements of lavender like smoke (for our smoked oysters) from the dried stems and a quick brine in hydrolsol (for the lamb tartare).
When in Delaware we would, of course, be remise if we did not work with watermelon. Our first course was a salad that was comprised of watermelon, tomatoes, black olives, ricotta salata, mint, basil and dressed in a "balsamic" dressing I made from strawberries.
Recipe at the end.
Second course was focused on the ocean, as awe were just a few miles from it. We chose to work with Golden Tile Fish serviced over a mushroom and summer corn Succotash that we cooked in a large cast iron cauldron.
I should take this moment to state the somewhat obvious for the folks that have been following us for years that this menu (as all of our menus) are built around the season and that exact time and place. Our mission, ethos and foundation stand on these principles so I often forget to talk about it as it's just the way we do things.
Next was our main course where we presented the slowly roasted farm lamb on a bed of smoldering Lavender stems and roasted young carrots from a neighboring farm with a sheep milk ricotta we made over the fire.
The dessert was a take on the farm itself. We had spun a lavender infused sugar into cotton candy to simulate wool. We paired this with lavender vanilla ice cream and honey. Lastly, ahead of the dinner, my team braided wool from the farm around the dessert spoons with a single sprig of lavender. The idea was when you take a bit of the dessert, the tactile feeling of wool on the spoon as well as the essence from it should bind your brain with the feeling that you are...eating wool! Of course, in a good way! Also, Salted Vines (a local winery) produced a lavender infused white wine from the farms fields.
The evening ended with a cordial and some table side conversation with guests where we invited them down to a beautifully restored shed for live music and coffee.
An evening well spent along old and new friends, just the way we like it.
A big thank you to the following for helping us make this dinner and this community come to life !
Laura and Jon Brittingham - Brittingham Farms
Pamela Aquilani - Pamela Aquilani Photography - all of these pictures!
Katina Dawson - A Sweet Affair Events
Adrian Mobilia - Salted Vines Winery
Zach McCarthy - Coastal Tented Events
Henry Bennet - Bennett Farms
Paul Parsons - Parsons Produce
Zack Dittmar - Dittmar Family Produce
Ryan - East View Farms
Kerry Harrington - Seaborn Seafood
Alan Davis - Arrow Head Point Oysters
Anna Lee - Barrier Island Sea Salt
VINE RIPENED SUMMER SALAD
4 cups melon balled or cubed watermelon
4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 cups cucumbers, cubed
2 cups ricotta salt or feta
1 fist sized bunch of mint, leaves picked
1 fist sized bunch of basil, leaves picked
1 cup strawberry " balsamic vinegar"
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves
and and pepper to taste
Strawberry "Balsamic Vinegar"
2 quarts local strawberries
2 cups Garnacha or Tempernillo
1 cup molasses
1 cup red wine vinegar
Combine the watermelon, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers ricotta salata, 1/2 of the mint, 1/2 of basil and toss to coat with dressing. Top salad with remaining Mint and Basil and serve.
TO MAKE DRESSING
Combine all ingredients in a blender until fully incorporated. The consistency should be of medium thickness, like an Italian vinaigrette. If dressing needs to be thinned, do so with water and correct seasoning after.
TO MAKE THE STRAWBERRY "BALSAMIC VINEGAR"
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend into smooth, strawberry tops and all.
Next, strain mixture though a fine seize into a sauce pot to remove and seeds and larger pieces, pressing out as much juice as possible. Move pot to store over medium heat. Reduce the mixture by about half, scraping down the sizes from time to time with a silicone spatula; taste for seasoning. Once the mixture is reduced, allow to cool and make your dressing.